Allegedly, in early June 1983, while flying a Sea Harrier during a NATO exercise off the coast of Portugal, Royal Navy's Sub-Lieutenant Ian "Soapy" Watson found himself in a rather unenviable predicament. Allegedly, due to malfunctioning navigation systems, Soapy was unable to return to HMS Illustrious, the Sea Harrier he was flying nearly ran out of fuel and, instead of ejecting into the Atlantic, Soapy decided to land on Spanish container ship Alraigo.

Photo courtesy of JF Aleman-Canary Islands Spotting, according to https://www.forces.net/services/tri-service/day-royal-navy-pilot-landed-spanish-container-ship

From the last paragraph of an article$^\star$ on this famous incident:

Watson eventually acquired 2,000 hours in Sea Harriers and another 900 in F/A-18s before resigning his commission in 1996.

To the best of my knowledge, neither the Royal Air Force (RAF) nor the Royal Navy ever acquired F/A-18 Hornets. Thus, how did Soapy get to fly Hornets? Was he in some sort of exchange program between the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Royal Australian Air Force? Or, perhaps, with the US Navy?$^\dagger$

$\star$ Tim Wright, Oldies and oddities: the Alraigo Incident, Air & Space Magazine, November 2008.

$\dagger$ Caroline Wyatt, Royal Navy 'Top Gun' pilots train to fly US fighters, BBC News, 12 May 2012.



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